MEDIA STATEMENT (18 AUGUST 2018): Sungai Kandis by-election observation report: EC fails to monitor and take legal action on election offences

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) releases today the observation report on Sungai Kandis by-Election, which was held on 4 August 2018.

The observation of the by-election was conducted by 38 observers and ran from 21 July to 4 August 2018.

BERSIH 2.0 recognises and welcomes the improvement measures taken by the Election Commission as below in Sungai Kandis by-election:
1.       The closing of voting time was extended to 5.30pm instead of 5.00pm
2.       The increase of voting streams to reduce congestion
3.       The increase of voting box from two to three to accommodate more voters to cast vote at one time
4.       Buggy vans were prepared to ferry senior citizens or persons with disabilities from the gate of polling station to the voting streams
5.       Campaign period extended from 11 days in the 14the General Election to 14 days in this by-election
6.       Five non-governmental organizations and the National Commission of Human Rights (SUHAKAM) were accredited officially by the EC and allowed to observe the whole electoral process
7.       Observers were given two-day briefing by the EC on the electoral processes
8.       Copy of the electoral roll of Sungai Kandis in PDF format was given to observer organizations at no cost.
BERSIH 2.0 is however appalled by the same dirty election campaign tactics employed by both the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (KEADILAN) and Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates, Zawawi Mughni and Lokman Adam.

Zawawi Mughni’s campaign was found to involve activities of giving out free motocycle engine oil to bikers and free medical check-up and medicine to residents, which are election offences of undue influence on voting.  Zawawi had also committed offence of abusing government assets and events in at least four cases, where he was found to have campaigned for support in two public schools and three government events. On another occasion, several ministers were found to have used official car to go to the nomination center on polling day.

Lokman Adam was found to have committed election offences of treating food and drinks to gain votes in two occasions, namely a majlis kenduri rakyat organised by UMNO Pahang on 31 July 2018 and a ceramah Pentas Bicara Rakyat on 1 August 2018 where rojak, bakso, tea and fried noodle were served to the attendance.

More alarmingly, race and religion hatred were again used to canvass for support in at least four events in Lokman’s electoral campaign. Shukri Samsudin and Khairul Muzammil were found to have made inflammatory statements such as “DAP is established on the ideology to disappear the names of bumiputera, pribumi and Malay” in a ceramah while member of parliament of Pasir Salak, Tajuddin Abdul Rahman accused that Christians have taken over Putrajaya and will use the political platform to spread Christianity.

BERSIH 2.0 found that despite all these actions committed in the election campaign of both candidates are clearly stipulated as election offences in the Election offences Act, such as Section 8 on treating, Section 9 on undue influence, Section 10 on bribery, Section 4A on offence of promoting feelings of ill-will or hostility, the EC had failed to take any necessary legal action against the perpetrators.

BERSIH 2.0 makes the following recommendations to the EC:

1. Increase human resources in the enforcement team in order for the enforcement team to monitor all election campaign activities of candidates and their political parties, such as ceramah, food feast, giving out of goodies et cetera. It should not be just confined itself to monitoring and removing illegal campaign materials only. The EC should publicize a hotline of the enforcement team for public to lodge complaints when they found such offences committed by candidates or political parties.
2. A joint task force with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission should be established to monitor bribery and corruption before, during and after election. A public hotline number should be announced for public members to lodge complaints.
3. The EC must investigate and take legal action on the complaints if it is serious about defending free, clean and fair elections. Perpetrators should be brought to court of justice to stop electoral fraud and bribery.
These measures should be put in place for the Balakong and Seri Setia by-election.

BERSIH 2.0 will deploy 18 observers in both Balakong and Seri Setia by-election. We call on all contesting candidates and political parties to abide by the election law and regulations and ensure a clean and fair election. Campaign tactics that are election offences in Sungai Kandis should not be repeated in Balakong and Seri Setia by-election.

BERSIH 2.0 will lodge complaints to the relevant authorities for legal action on any election offence found.     

Released by,
Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0